I was born in 1925 to a "Church of the Nazarene " preacher and his wife. Father was the "Pastor" and mother played the church reed organ. When I was 3 years old my parents moved to Michigan and we lived there for 7 years. I don't remember hearing my father preach a sermon, nevertheless there was prayer each night before we went to bed and prayer before each meal. I never had the sense of being loved by my father, but remember him to be a strict disciplinarian.
After 7 years in this northern state we returned to Missouri and moved to a farm which was about 12 or 13 miles from the closest town, or church. We had no means of fast transportation, therefore we never attended services. I relate this to show that God has a plan for the life of each of us whether we know it or not and has a way of keeping His hand on a person whom He will use in some way or another during their life time.
I remember one time that as I walked from the house to the barn, I was thinking about what I would be when I grew to manhood. I said: to myself I thought; When I become a man I'll be the best Christian that I can be. In reality I was speaking a promise to the Lord, even though I had never been saved.
The years passed and I was drafted into the U.S. Navy during the second world war. I had forgotten about the day I walked down the path to the barn and the promise I made to God and self. I now lived in sin, seeking worldly pleasures with gusto and desire. Even when I was exposed to the danger of losing my life, I didn't think of becoming a Christian.
After my discharge from the Navy I came home and began to date girls who were members of a church and so I would go to services with them. I even made a profession of becoming a Christian, but my lifestyle didn't change much.
Because my father had always been so poor, just living off the land and the relief program provided by the government; I made up my mind to become a millionaire by the time I was 40 or so. I bought some property on a time payment and even went into a grocery business to accomplish my aims. The business didn't do well and I finally got rid of it, and eventually sold the property to father for the same amount I paid for it.
Before I sold the property to father, I lived on it in a 1 room building and drove from there about 35 miles to work and then back home that night. It was on one of these drives that the Lord began to call to me to repent, But the call was in the form of an accident that occurred one morning as I went to work. I came upon a wrecked automobile and stopped to see if I could help. I found a young man about 40 or 50 feet from the car, wrapped around a tree trunk and he died as I got to him. Another car came up and stopped so I told him to stay with the man while I notified the State Patrol. On the way to make the call, which took about 15 minutes, a voice said to me: If you don't repent and begin to live as you should, this will happen to you. That thought began to worry me and stayed with me about a week or two. Nevertheless I forgot about it and made no change in my life.
It was after this incident that I bought the business, and also began to date the lady who would become my wife. As the business fell in profits I found it necessary to go into the city to buy the fresh fruit and produce, instead of having it delivered. In order to reach the city I took a short route through a very large city park. One morning as I returned from the city, I saw a large crowed standing on a bridge in this park. I stopped to see what had happened and saw a young man lying in the water and it appeared he had been murdered. As I drove away from that bridge the voice said again: "repent or this might happen to you." Mind you I was by myself; needless to say the thought disturbed me greatly.
I got rid of the store and found a job with a factory about 15 miles away from my home. I became acquainted with a young man and we became good friends. He was married and had two children of whom he was very proud. On a weekend, before a holiday, he packed his car for a trip to visit his parents in another state. That Friday night we said good by and he left the parking lot in a hurry to get home and on his way. about 5 miles toward my home I came upon a wreck and recognizing his car I stopped and rushed to his side, but he died as I spoke to him. Once again as I drove away that voice said: "repent or you may die just as he did."
My sweetheart and I married and because she had always gone to church, we began to attend a church in the city where her mother lived.
Our first daughter was born and another child was on the way, when the church held a revival meeting. We began attending each evening and the Holy Spirit began to deal with me in a very definite way: so definite in fact, that I began to pray as I worked at my jig in the factory. I became afraid that I would die before I got back to church that night, and I began to ask for forgiveness as I worked, but it seemed to me that the Spirit said to me: "You must acknowledge me before the church". I prayed: "Lord let me get to the service and I will do it". In our church there was always an altar call at the close of the preaching service which allowed seekers to come forward and kneel at the mourners bench and the Christians would gather around and pray as the seeker prayed for his needs to be met. As soon as the altar was opened I moved to it and began to pray for forgiveness. I discovered my wife there beside me praying for forgiveness also.
This is the promise I made to the Lord that night: "Lord, if you will forgive me my sins I will be the very best Christian I can be. I remembered later it was the same words I had prayed as a lad between the house and the barn so many years before.
I must tell you that I had very little knowledge of the Bible, so it was a matter of reading the best I could and trying to live what I had read. At this time I had become a salesman and my duty was to go into taverns and bars and sell them my products.
I became very depressed over this job, and often prayed that the Lord would not hold it against me, or leave me because of it. You see I didn't know how to live by faith.
The night we were saved I had thrown away my tobacco and stopped cursing and telling filthy jokes; and many other evil things that I had done. Now these were just things that I could do because I didn't believe that Christians should do them. But to ask God not to leave me because of my job, which took me into places of sinful conduct was more than my faith could handle. I thought that He was so holy that He would leave me at the door of such a place. I felt that I must keep the job to support my wife and children until I could get another one. Can you see how my faith was so weak? Then one day, as I sat and read the Bible in my truck, I came across the Scripture which reads" I will never leave thee not forsake thee, even to the end of the world." My spirit soared and the tears began to flow. I had found my answer. My job would not cause me to lose my relationship with Jesus. I was the only person who could cause that by deliberately sinning. Jesus prayed: " Father I pray that you not take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil." Oh the joy of sins forgiven! I soon found another job and was free from the taverns and bars forever.
As I continued to serve the Lord I would sit in my car each morning, before going into work, and read the Scripture and pray. I was seeking for understanding of the "Word" and for His will in my life to be accomplished. I began to notice that each day, as I read, I would begin to formulate a sermon to fit the Scriptures I had just read. At first it annoyed me, for I couldn't concentrate on the subject at hand. This continued until one day I ask why I always did this? I got the impression that God wanted me to preach His gospel. It was more than an impression, but that is the only way I can explain it to you. I said no! I can't do that! I am too ignorant and unlearned. I had failed the ninth grade in school and had gone to the city to work. This awful thought was always there as I tried to study and pray from that time on. I call it awful because to me it was terrifying! I said to the Lord on one occasion: "Lord, what would I do, if while I was preaching your Word, someone who had known me in my sinful life would come in? I would bring shame on your holy Name. The answer came swift and sure: What sins? I don't remember any of your sins! I put them in the sea of my forgetfulness to be remembered against you no more! Forget your past and do my will; do not fear what men can do to you! Again the burden lifted and the tears flowed. I had found the answer to any dilemma. However I didn't know how to proceed from that point to become a preacher. I wrestled with the Lord for another year and He gradually withdrew His blessings from me. I could be in the most wonderful, spirit filled service and still be as dry as last years bird nest; unaware of His presence in my spirit. I had read that His Spirit would bear witness with my spirit that now am I the son of God, but it just wasn't happening.
One service I was seated on the front seat, right under the preacher's nose, and the Holy Spirit was was there in convicting power. I was as dead as could be and still call myself a Christian. I began to pray. Lord! if you want me to preach for you restore to me your blessing, and put some sinner's name in my mind that I may try to lead that one to you. Remember I was seated on the front seat and didn't know who was behind me. There were about 300 people there. I immediately thought of a name and I didn't know where to look. I turned and there was the person sitting on the very back seat. I made my way to him, but he refused the invitation to be saved.
Later he did become a Christian, and I believe that I helped him make that decision.
To shorten my story let me say that I went to my pastor and asked how to become a preacher. His answer was: study and ask God to lead you. I found the Scripture that commands us "To study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." I started to study that day and have continued until this present time. I depend on the anointing of the Holy Ghost for the power to do anything He wants me to do. I can truly say: "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." I have committed my all to Him.
To the unsaved I say: Try Jesus; you'll like Him!
I was 28 when I was saved and am now 75. I never became a millionaire, but my God has supplied all my needs in Christ Jesus. The first person to be save under my ministry was my brother who went on to become a General Baptist pastor. Also others who had spent times of sinful pleasure with me were saved as I ministered the Word to them. I give all the glory to my precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I might add that the most salary I ever received as a pastor was $50.00 a week. I have preached in my work place and had Scripture discussions every noon hour for almost 20 years. " I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me, "
Let me add this thought to someone who is hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit calling them to repentance. Do not tempt God as I did for Scripture states: " My Spirit will not always strive with man". I could have lost my soul, but God was patient.
Hiram's testimony continued:
In my first report it would appear that my conversion was only the result of God dealing with me, and no other person was involved. This however is far from the truth; so I will endeavor to set the record straight.
From my youth I am sure that my mother was much in prayer for me, as well as for my brother and two sisters. However there were others who were also involved who were also praying for me.
My mother attended a church quite a distance from our home, and because she and father had no car, I would take her to church and go back and pick her up after the service was over. On one occasion the service was still in progress when I arrived,
and continued for some time after I got there. I grew tired of waiting so I went to the door to find the reason for the delay. The church was gathered around the altar in prayer, and my aunt Mary was leading it. As I stood there and listened, I heard her agonizing with the Lord asking Him to save me.
I know that my mother-in-law prayed for me, along with others I'm sure. But the straw that broke my resistance down was the pastor of the church where my wife and I were attending after our marriage.
He began to fast and pray for us and had others to do the same. I didn't know about this until many years after I was saved. In fact I mentioned it to him and he seemed reluctant to talk about it. So you can see that many people were praying for many years for my salvation, but it took a long time for the Holy Spirit to persuade me to repent.
As I told you in my other letter I was determined to be the very best Christian that I could be, therefore I became very involved in all the church activities. One of these was a prayer meeting that lasted for 13 weeks. There were about 5 or 6 young men and one older man, plus the pastor who agreed to meet every evening at 6:00 P. M and pray until midnight, except for Saturday, when we pray all night long.
Now this was not a planned system of praying, but each prayed from the need of our own hearts, and the needs that each of us knew about another person. It spread like wildfire to the young ladies of the church and they began a prayer service of their own. They, out of necessity, must pray for shorter periods because of their children.
One prayer night the pastor was called to the hospital to be with a family whose baby was dying. In the midst of our praying, a message came to us to pray for that child's healing; for the father and mother of the child had given their lives to the Lord in the chapel of the hospital. We centered our prayers on that baby and before the night was out we heard that the baby was healed. ( All glory to God ).
At another time one of the other young men and I, went to pray with a lady of the church who was on her death bed. The family were all there, waiting for the Doctor to give them the final word. Bill and I stood at the foot of the bed and prayed a simple request for the Lord God to heal her. The Holy Spirit filled that room and she recovered to live another 10 or more years. I shall never forget the overflow of the Spirit in that room, even as I write this record my spirit rejoices and the tears fill my eyes just remembering that time! The church caught Spiritual fire and people were getting saved and the membership grew in astounding measure.
Let me remind the reader: If you would live for the Lord God in absolute consecration
you will be on the attack list of satan. Of the group of men who prayed that 13 weeks only the pastor and me are serving God actively today.
Three of us received the call to preach and became pastors of congregations, but I am the only one serving in any capacity of the ministry today. My pastor went on to become a District superintendent in Indiana.
Jesus said: " They have hated me and they will hate you". Hate, by the way, is any
feeling that is contrary to love. This will even include a simple dislike which anyone cherishes.
One can easily see that many will receive a reward for my salvation, and If I have done anything worthy of consideration for the Kingdom of God, they too will receive a reward for that also. A person does not live to himself alone.
Let me herewith give thanks to all who had a part in my salvation. Mother is with the Lord, Mary is there also, mother-in-law is there too. As far as I know my pastor is still in this world, even though I have not heard from him in years, Nevertheless: " Bob Wiggs" I am forever grateful that you showed your love for me and interceded with the Father in Heaven for my behalf.
Father in Heaven I thank you now and forever for Your gift of Love called Jesus. Lord Jesus I thank You for the sacrifice that you made for me. Blessed Holy Spirit, thanks for being so patient all of those years.
Hiram D. Bennett
Dec. 17, 2000
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